Kimberly Kelly
Arvel Bird, a Native American Music Award winner, performs for an audience.

Nashville Pow Wow to Draw Big Crowd; Host Award-Winning Arvel Bird

Tish Leizens

Live music, competitive dancing, drums and authentic food will bring thousands to Nashville, Tennessee, for the 32nd Annual Fall Festival Tennessee State Pow Wow, which starts on Friday.

Sally Wells, president of the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee, said that this year she expects about 18,000 people from in and out of state to attend. There will also be a special performance by the Native American Women Warrior.

Five female veteran soldiers—representing the intertribal Native group that performed at President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade in January—are sure to please the crowd gathering at Long Hunter State Park, said Wells.

“We usually have $40,000 available for prize money,” Wills said. “We always have a pow wow every year to raise money for the Circle of Life Indian Cultural Center.”

The planned 6,500 square-foot Center will house a museum, a research library, the organization’s administrative headquarters and pow wow grounds.

One big supporter of NAIA and the pow wow is award-winning recording artist, violinist, and Native flutist, Arvel Bird.

“It’s always beautiful here in the fall,” said Bird. “I really like the people who organize it, Sally and Bill Wells at the NAIA, Tim Tallchief, the MC, Winona Yellowhammer, co-MC—and Arena Director Marty Pinnecoose, who keeps the dancing in the arena running according to tradition.”

Wells said Bird volunteers his time and talent for the success of the pow wow.

“The event attracts a lot of quality vendors, artists and craftspeople.  If I’m not performing or signing autographs, I like to walk around to the vendors area to see who's there—and shop!” Bird said.

This weekend, Bird is releasing a CD, an extended play, called “Arvel Unplugged—The Indian In Me,” which will be available for sale at the pow wow.

“It’s a mostly acoustic preview CD of six new songs—just me on vocals, acoustic guitar, fiddle, hand drum and Native American flute with my wife Kimberly Kelley on synthetic strings and backup harmonies,” said Bird.

“Next month, I’ll be releasing ‘Arvel Unplugged—Going Home’, a Celtic-themed extended play,” Bird said.


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Submitted by MARY CAMPBELL on
I live in Nashville and read the paper daily. I haven't read anything in the Tenneessean ... did I just miss it? Where is it?